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Compare business credit cards for startups

Many business credit cards offer helpful benefits for startups.

Updated . What changed?

Fact checked

Our pick for start ups: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card logo

100,000-point

Signup bonus after spending $15,000 in first 3 months

  • Huge signup bonus worth $1,250 through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Earn 3x points on travel and popular business categories on up to $150,000 each year
  • 1x points on everything else
Apply now

Running a startup is never easy. You’re juggling multiple priorities at any given moment — including, of course, your company’s finances.

A business credit card can be your best friend for covering last minutes expenses. There are lots of choices catering to startups, so compare the annual fees, benefits and rewards to find the best card for your startup.

Best business credit cards for startups

There are many business cards on the market, but it’s likely only a few offer benefits that meet your specific needs. Here are a few of our top picks.

Best for no personal guarantee

Brex for Startups

Brex for Startups logo
Credit recommended (300-850)
Apply now
on Brex's secure site
300
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 7x
Points
Other
Welcome offer
As the name suggests, this card is specifically designed for startups. You get $0 annual fee for your first five cards, signup bonus worth of services and a generous rewards program if you make your Brex card exclusive for your business.
  • Rewards program. Earn 1x points on all of your purchases. Make Brex for Startups your exclusive card and boost the rewards rate to 7x points on rideshares, 4x points on travel booked through Brex Travel, 3x on dining, 2x on recurring software and software as a service and 1x points on everything else you buy.
  • No personal guarantee. Your startup may fail. With Brex for Startups, you are not personally liable for the card debt and you don't need a personal guarantee to be approved for the card.
  • Signup bonus. Get worth of services when you signup up, including in credit for Amazon Web Services, $436 credits per month for 12 months for Zendesk and more.
  • Can't carry a balance. The Brex for Startups is a charge card, meaning you must pay your balance in full every month before it's due.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR N/A
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer Up to $25,000 worth of credits for business services like Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, Zendesk and more
Rewards 7x points on rideshares, 4x on Brex Travel, 3x at restaurants, 2x on software subscriptions and 1x points on all other purchases

Best for travel

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on Chase's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$95
Annual fee
Up to 3x
Points
100,000
Points welcome offer
This is one of your best choices if you travel often. You'll earn accelerated points on travel and other business categories. And when you redeem points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, they're worth 25% more.
  • Signup bonus: 100,000 bonus points. To earn bonus points, spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of card membership. When you redeem them through Chase Ultimate Rewards, they're worth $1,250.
  • Rewards: More on business purchases. Earn 3x points on the first 150,000 you spend per year in combined purchases on travel, shipping costs, eligible advertising and Internet, cable and phone services. Once you reach the cap, and on all other purchases, you'll earn 1x points.
  • Points transfers to frequent-traveler programs. Transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to select airline and hotel programs, such as Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards and World of Hyatt.
Annual Fee $95
Purchase APR 15.99% to 20.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 15.99% to 20.99% variable
Welcome offer 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 3x points on the first $150,000 on travel and select business categories annually, then 1x after and on all other purchases

Best for intro APR

U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard®

U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard® logo
Finder Rating: 4.1 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (740-850)
Read review
Rates & fees

740
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 3%
Cash back
$500
Welcome offer
If you need to take on interest-free debt for longer than a month, you’ll want a card with a strong intro APR. The U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard® is one of your top options, offering a long zero-interest promotion and strong rewards in select business categories.
  • Annual fee: None.
  • Intro APR. Get a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles following account opening. After that, your APR will be 11.99% to 22.99% variable.
  • Cash back. Earn 3 cash back on qualifying gas station, office supply store, and cell phone or service provider purchases. Earn 1% cash back on all other qualifying purchases.
  • Signup bonus. Earn $500 cash back after you make $4,500 in eligible purchases within the first 150 days after account opening.
  • Annual bonus. After each account anniversary, earn a 25% bonus on the cash rewards you earned the previous card year.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 15 billing cycles (then 11.99% to 22.99% variable)
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 15 billing cycles (then 11.99% to 22.99% variable)
Welcome offer $500 after spending $4,500 in the first 150 days
Rewards 3% cash back on gas, cell phone services, and office supply stores and 1% back on all other purchases

Best for average credit

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business logo
Finder Rating: 3.5 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (630-739)
Read review
Rates & fees

630
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to 1%
Cash back
n/a
Welcome offer
When you’re bootstrapping your startup, you might not have the best credit, from running up high balances or taking out loans. When other cards might be out of reach, the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business may be a viable option with no annual fee and unlimited cash back on your purchases.
  • Apply with average credit. Capital One specifically targets this cards toward business owners with average credit.
  • Annual fee: None. A breath of fresh air, especially when your credit might not be where you want it to be.
  • Rewards: 1% cash back on every purchase. Earn unlimited rewards with no minimum to redeem. It isn’t a great rewards rate, but it’s a decent deal if you have fair credit and need a business card.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 26.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 26.99% variable
Welcome offer N/A
Rewards 1% cash back on all purchases

Best for limiting debt

American Express® Business Gold Card

American Express® Business Gold Card logo
Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$295
Annual fee
Up to 4x
Points
35,000
Points welcome offer
If you’re worried about running up high balances on your card, you can keep yourself in check with the American Express® Business Gold Card. That’s because it’s a charge card, meaning you must pay off your balance each month unless you opt to use the Pay Over Time feature. Luckily, it’s also a strong rewards card, which can balance the steep annual fee.
  • Annual fee: $295. Be sure to weigh the benefits versus this annual fee.
  • Welcome offer. Enjoy a welcome offer of 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Rewards: Earn elevated rewards in categories of your choice. Earn 4x points in two of six categories on up to 150,000 in combined purchases annually, then 1x points after that.

    Categories include eligible airfare, US advertising purchases, US gas stations, US restaurants, US shipping and eligible US computing purchases. Earn 1x points on all other purchases.

Annual Fee $295
Purchase APR 14.24% to 22.24% variable
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer 35,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 4x points on two categories on up to $150,000 combined annually, then 1x points after that and on all other purchases

Best for flat cash back

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business

Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$95 ongoing
Annual fee
2%
Cash back
$500
Welcome offer
If your expenses spread through many categories, like office supplies, travel and shipping costs, a flat-rate rewards card like the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business might help. It offers unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. Also, you get to earn a generous signup bonus and you won't pay an annual fee for the first year.
  • Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95. After the first year, the annual fee is $95.
  • Signup bonus. Earn $500 after you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months of card membership.
  • Rewards: 2% cash back on all purchases. Earn unlimited rewards with no minimum to redeem.
Annual Fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Purchase APR 20.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 20.99% variable
Welcome offer $500 after spending $4,500 in the first 3 months
Rewards 2% cash back on all purchases

How we selected our top cards

We measured a few different factors when comparing available credit cards for startup businesses, including credit score requirements, introductory APRs, reward programs, points or cash back earned per dollar, reward earning categories signup bonuses and other added perks particularly beneficial to startups. The cards we highlighted demonstrated exemplary performance in one or more of these categories.

What’s changed in 2020

Our list stood relatively stable this year, with most cards maintaining strong performance and remaining top picks in their respective categories.

At the time of this writing, The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card no longer offers an intro APR on balance transfers. Many issuers have been making tweaks to their cards as a response to COVID-19, and Amex seems to have followed suit.

Compare business cards for startups

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
3x points on the first $150,000 on travel and select business categories annually, then 1x after and on all other purchases
15.99% to 20.99% variable
$95
100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. That's $1,250 toward travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
5% at office supply stores, on Internet, cable and phone up to $25,000 combined annually (then 1%), 2% on gas and dining up to $25,000 combined annually then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.24% to 19.24% variable)
$0
$500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
1.5% cash back on all purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.24% to 19.24% variable)
$0
$500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.
United℠ Business Card
2x miles on United, transit and rideshares, and at gas stations, office supply stores and restaurants, and 1x miles on all other purchases
16.49% to 23.49% variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Earn 60,000 miles once after spending $3,000 in your first 3 months.
Universal Premium Mastercard®
3 cents off per gallon when you buy 30,000 or more gallons in a month plus 3 cents off at the Retail Savings Network
27.24% variable
Up to $120
Earn 3 cents off per gallon when you buy 30,000 or more gallons in a month plus 3 cents off at the Retail Savings Network.
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Pros and cons of startup credit cards

Pros

  • Access to funds
  • Earn rewards on purchases
  • Get 0% intro APR period on purchases
  • Build business credit
  • Track employee spending

Cons

  • Could damage your personal credit in case of delinquency
  • You may be personally liable for the company debt
  • Credit limit may not be enough
  • Could pay an annual fee

How to choose the best business credit cards for startups

Your startup’s finances can be simplified with the right credit card. Here’s what to consider to choose the right one:

  • Annual fee. When cash is tight, you might not want the expense of an annual fee. There are solid no-annual-fee business cards, though you’ll earn more powerful rewards with cards you have to pay for.
  • Signup bonus. If you anticipate heavy purchases in the next few months, you could breeze past the spending requirement for a card’s signup bonus. Business credit cards often have more impressive bonuses than personal cards.
  • Intro APR. This could be the answer if you’ll rack up debt soon but need several months to pay it off. Intro APRs for business cards tend to top off at around 15 months.
  • Rewards. A card with strong rewards can pay for itself. If your card has tiered rewards, check that your startup has significant expenses in the right categories. If your expenses are spread evenly throughout many categories, you might get more out of a flat-rewards card.
  • Employee cards. Most card providers let you add employee cards with no additional cost. You can also set up spending limits, you can monitor their card activity and you can easily export them to accounting software.

Should I get a business credit card or use my personal card?

If you’re successfully running a business, getting a business credit card may be worth your while. That’s because there are plenty of benefits you’ll get over personal credit cards. For example, if you use a business card instead of a personal card, you get the following benefits:

  • Build business credit
  • Higher credit limit
  • Rewards on business-related purchases

Bottom line

Your startup faces unique challenges, which some cards can address more effectively than others. Business cards are tailor-made to help you overcome challenges related to your business. If you don’t have a business credit history or if you have bad credit, compare cards for no credit.

If you’d like to compare more products, visit our guide on business credit cards.

Frequently asked questions

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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